PAC Articles

Is your PAC a Clique?

articles-clique-fullIf people say your group is a clique, it is. In this case, perception matters.

Parent involvement is sought after by most PAC’s, you’d love more help from parents! Why is it that the ‘PAC’ becomes the most talked about criticism in the school? For some reason parents feel unwelcomed when it comes to parent groups.

The problem is if parents have an impression that the PAC is a clique, then you are perceived as a clique. The sooner you realize this, the more effective your efforts will be to change it.

Most PAC’s don’t see themselves as a clique and more then likely would never mean to shut people out, but impressions can be so powerful.

What are new parents experiencing when they first interact with your group?

It’s up to your PAC to develop habits that create a welcoming and open environment to new comers. At every meeting or event look for new faces and welcome them, even if it feels strange. At every meeting it’s important for all on the PAC to introduce themselves so new ones at the school recognize them when they see them in the halls. Deliberately avoid sitting together at events and PAC meetings, widen out and meet and great new ones!

Here are a few more tips:

  • Assign someone to greet people at the door of events and PAC meetings
  • Use nametags so everyone feels like they are on the same playing field
  • Don’t assume everyone at your PAC meeting knows what you’re talking about. Always explain business items
  • Ask people to raise their hands at meetings, this way you keep things under control and it helps stop the regulars from chatting

People will always be critical and you can choose whether to listen or not; however, in the case of a clique you’ll do well to correct any misconceptions immediately and gain greater involvement within the PAC.

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PAC & Fraud

fraudHow to keep your PAC from being a victim of theft.

Across Canada and the States parent groups are surprised to find out that their friend the ‘Treasurer’ or ‘President’ has embezzled money. Whether your PAC brings in large sums of money or small sums, theft happens! As a group of parents you need to run your PAC like a business right from the start.

We get to know each other and start to trust one another, especially when we are working on projects together. Our kids start playing with one another and friendships form. There is a level of trust that we build with each other. When something like this happens it can be devastating to a school, broken trust between friends and within the community.

Typical fraud within PAC’s usually involve small amounts of money and sometimes takes months or years before the theft is even noticed. Parents and volunteers are surprised to learn of someone they trusted had stole from their PAC. 85% of those who commit fraud have never been charged or convicted of a fraud-related offense. Some parents say they only intended to borrow the money and were going to pay it back.

Safeguard Your Money

Protecting your PAC means putting as many controls in place right from the start. Make sure there are several people always watching the money. If a person wants to steal they will find a way around most preventive measures. Eg: Requiring two signatures to sign a cheque isn’t enough; a thief will just forge the second signature. Here are a few suggestions to help protect your PAC:

Require Reimbursement Forms – When it comes to reimbursing parents for money spent, require all receipts and 2 signatures on the form and always attach a copy of the check along with the payment.  Reimbursement forms can be a hassle but it helps to keep track when trying to track spending.

Petty Cash – Petty cash funds invite petty theft! Parents get used to dipping in to the fund and once someone gets used it they may be tempted to steal larger sums of money.

Require Two Signatures on Checks – This is not a thief-proof method, however, it should be standard protocol for keeping tabs on spending. You can even have the treasurer maintain the cheque book but not allowed to sign the cheques, two other PAC members can be assigned. It’s also recommended that two parents or two relatives do not have signing authority.

Bank Statements at PAC Meetings – A formal financial report should be shown at every PAC meeting, then the executive should initial the bank statements.

Statements – Someone other then the executive or treasure should receive the mailed bank statements.

Collected Funds – After any event or fundraiser all monies collected should be counted together as a group. Once the funds are counted everyone should initial the amount that was written down.

Depositing – Any money collected from an event or fundraiser should be deposited immediately. Several days should not go by without the money being deposited. Once the treasurer has deposited the funds, the executive should go on line and verify that the correct amount has been deposited.

Separate Duties – The majority of PAC’s have one person in charge of the banking duties, the more ways you can divide up duties and responsibilities the better.

Organization – Keep all your records in order. Your PAC should be running like a business, with receipts for every purchase. If it helps, purchase some software that will help keep your PAC organized and help to make your PAC’s finances more transparent.

Reviewing your Records – Using a professional auditing company or the parents on your PAC, someone should be reviewing the finances on an annual basis.

Policies – Make sure your PAC’s bylaws and policies are current and up to date.

Consistancy – This is not personal! Treat everyone the same and get in the habit of looking over each others shoulders. It just makes good business sense.

Your Mission – Most PAC’s want and need to raise funds; however, always go back to what your PAC’s ‘mission’ was at the beginning of the year, this will help you all stay focused.

Being a victim of theft can be difficult for most, but you can learn from it, make necessary changes and re-build. You can turn your PAC around for the better, grow closer to one another and achieve great things!

If You Suspect Financial Fraud

If someone is suspected of stealing, as difficult as it may be, the situation must be dealt with immediately.

A sign to look for is a parent refusing to provide bank statements or share passwords or low balances with no explanations. If you suspect a ‘red flag’ it’s time to take action, you don’t want to compromise any potential criminal case.

School Board or an Outside Source with Fraud Experience – Seek assistance from either the school board or outside source. The investigation needs to be conducted by a trained professional and not by a parent.

Confront the Parent – Resist the urge to deal with the matter yourself or confronting the parent, you could put yourself and your PAC at risk for liability.

Following the Authorities – As hard as it may be, follow the advice from the authority given. The advice should be given on the evidence provided and not your personal relationship with the person you suspected.

Cooperate with the Authorities – The authorities will review all evidence given, question the parent and determine if the parent should be arrested. Be sure to provide all necessary information that is asked of you.

Communicating with the Community – Keep it simple and do not comment on pending charges or the alleged theft, instead focus on what you are doing to recover the money and prevent theft from happening again.

Keep Quiet – Any inquiries should be handed over to the proper authorities.

Your PAC – Cases can take months or even a year to resolve, so don’t put your schools activities on hold. Try to keep your PAC functioning as normal as possible.

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PAC Meetings

articles-pac-meetings-fullParents are busy and don’t have a lot of extra time on their hands. Should we ask them to spend time participating at a PAC meeting?

How many of us have used ‘speakers’, ‘bribes’, ‘food’, ‘prizes’ for the kids, in order to have parents show up at your PAC meeting?  The tactics are endless and I’m sure we’ve all done one of the above!

PAC’s usually strategize & discuss how they can get parents to attend and usually to no avail. Why do we worry so much about who and how many attend?

Many measure how successful their PAC is by the numbers at the meeting, if that’s you, then you are using the wrong method to base your success on!

  • Things that you want to be looking for are:
  • How’s the involvement and spirit at your school?
  • Are your events successful?
  • Do you have good turnouts at your events?
  • How is your community spirit?

These are things that will determine how well you are doing as a PAC. If parents can only attend one event in a month, wouldn’t you rather it be the carnival instead of the PAC meeting?

Why don’t parents come to meetings? They are boring! A PAC meeting is never going to be exciting no matter how many speakers you bring in, that will just prolong the meeting. Parents are busy and would much rather be watching a sporting event or be out with their friends.

Celebrate the small success’s, instead of worrying about why the majority of your parents don’t show, be excited about the 1 or 2 new ones that made the effort to come out. If you only have 4 attending your meeting and another 4 show up, you’ve doubled your attendance!

No amount of gimmicks or pleas to parents will increase your meeting attendance. Once your PAC starts to connect with other parents your attendance will start to creep up. The more events that parents attend the more they will consider trying out a PAC meeting, they may even become a regular! If they don’t though, that is ok! As long at you are successful with your events and fundraisers and they are well supported you are building a strong community spirit and that is what matters most!

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